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talize his name, and has secured that ra- tinn tional esteem which party or partiality could not procure, and which even the injudicious zeal of his friends has not been able to lessen.
From the close of his last great work, the malady that persecuted him through life, came upon him with redoubled force. His constitution declined fast, and the fabric of his mind seemed to be tottering: The contemplation of his approaching end was constantly before his eyes; and the prospect of death, he declared, was terrible.
On the 4th of May 1781, he lost his valuable friend Thrale, who appointed him one of his executors, with a legacy of 2001. “ I felt,” he said, “ almost the last flutter of his pulse, and looked for the last time upon the face that, for fifteen years, had never been turned upon me but with respect and benignity.” Of his departed
friend he has given a true character in a Latin Epitaph, to be seen in the church of Streatham.
With Thrale, many of the comforts of Johnson's life may be said to have expired. In the course of 1782, he complains that he“ passed the summer at Streatham, but there was no Thrale.” In the same year, he received another shock. He was suddenly deprived of his old domestic companion Levett, and paid a tribute to his memory in an affecting and characteristic Elegy.
The successive losses of those acquaintances whom kindness had rendered dear, or habit made necessary to him, reminded Johnson of his own mortality.
After the death of Thrale, his vifits to Streatham, where he no longer looked upon himself as a welcome guest, became less and less frequent; and on the 5th of April 1783, he took his final leave of Mrs. Thrale,
to whom, for near twenty years, he was under the highest obligations.
“ The original reason of our connection,” says Mrs. Piozzi, in her lively and entertaining “ Anecdotes,” his particularly disordered health and Spirits, had been long at an end. Veneration for his virtues, reverence for his talents, delight in his converfation, and habitual endurance of a yoke my husband first put upon me, and of which he contentedly bore his share for sixteen or seventeen years, made me go on so long with Mr. Johnson ; but the perpetual confinement, I will own to have been terrifying in the first years of our friendship, and irksome in the last; nor would I pretend to support it without help, when my coadjutor was no more.”
A friendly correspondence continued, however, between Johnson and Mrs. Thrale, without interruption, till the summer following, when she retired to Bath, and in
formed him, that she was going to dispose of herself in marriage to Signior Piozzi, an Italian music master. Johnson, in his relation of executor to her husband, as also in gratitude to his memory, was under an obligation to promote the welfare of his family. He endeavoured, therefore, by prudent counsels and friendly admonition, to prevent that which he thought one of the greatest evils which could befal the children of his friend, the alienation of the affections of their mother. “ The answer to his friendly monition,” says Sir John Hawkins, “ I have seen ; it is written from Bath, and contains an indignant vindication, as well of her conduct as her fame, an inhibition of Johnson from following
her to Bath, and a farewel, concluding, ..“ Till you have changed your opinion of
----, let us converse no more.” In his last letter, 8th July 1784, directed to Mrs. Piozzi, who then had announced her mar
riage to him, he says, “ I breathe out one figh more of tenderness, perhaps useless, but at least sincere.” He gives her his best advice, and adds, “ the tears stand in my eyes."
Excluded from the dwelling and family of his friend, he was compelled to return to his own house, to spend cheerless hours among the objects of his bounty, when increasing age and infirmities had made their company more obnoxious than when he left them, and the society of which he had been recently deprived, rendered him, by comparison, less patient to endure it.
From this time, the narrative of his life is little more than a recital of the pressures of melancholy and disease, and of numberless excursions, taken to calm his anxiety, and soothe his apprehensions of the terrors of death, by flying, as it were, from himself. He was now doomed to feel all those calamities incident to length of days, which